Professor alleges ADHD discrimination

by | Aug 23, 2021 | Employment Law, Personal Injury |

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 prohibits discrimination based on an individual’s disability. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for employees with documented mental or physical impairment. It also guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream here in the United States as an individual, consumer and worker.

Many people struggle with varying levels of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but they may not realize that it is a mental health condition covered by the ADA. So, it is worth noting that an associate professor at Kansas State’s Department of Electrical Engineering alleged discrimination due to his ADHD.

How ADHD affects individuals

Those with ADHD will struggle with certain behaviors:

  • Disorganized thoughts
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Poor work or school performance
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor time management skills

Mental health professionals often diagnosed these symptoms as learning disabilities in youngsters. Some challenges may fade as they get older, while individuals continue to struggle with other issues for the rest of their lives.

The professor’s claims

Since employers cannot ask questions about employees’ physical or mental health, the employee must initiate the conversation to request an accommodation. The professor did this, and the department partially granted at least one of his requests – it involved reminders for upcoming meetings.

However, the professor said it was inconsistent, which meant it wasn’t a helpful accommodation. He claims that it led to a newly diagnosed anxiety disorder caused by unwarranted work stressors. He also alleged that it meant he was passed over for advancement in favor of less qualified colleagues, and that the school denied funding to attend an international conference for this reason. He seeks over $75,000 in damages, citing diminished earnings, personal suffering and injury.

Employers need to address these requests

Many with ADHD learn to successfully manage it, thus mitigating the worker’s claim of being “disabled” or “impaired.” Nevertheless, employers need to address any employee’s valid requests for accommodations. It involves the consistent use or application of the accommodation and being mindful of actions or inactions that could violate the ADA.